The Ministry of Health (MoH) has proposed a 50-bedded Detoxification and Treatment Center at Gidakom in Thimphu in the 11th five year plan.
The Center to be built on a four acre land at Gidakom is mainly for the treatment for alcohol and drug dependence cases. Initially it was planned in the current five year plan but due to budget constraints it was postponed to the 11th plan.
Health Ministry’s Program Officer under Mental Health and Substance Abuse Tandin Chogyal said, “The Center will be for short term (three weeks to one month) and later the clients will be sent for the long term rehabilitation to Serbithang”.
He said, the Center is specially designed for all activities, from treatment to counseling but at present we don’t have enough facilities.
Programs in the Center includes treatment and detoxification regime, Counseling services such as individual counseling, family counseling, group counseling, other entertainment programs, games, sports and many more.
The Program Officer said, “For the manpower, we are in the process while few counselors and nurses are undergoing trainings”.
Moreover the ministry has also planned to train more people.
“With no professionals available one of the challenges faced by the ministry is the manpower,” he said.
To begin with, there will be four counselors, either two medical officers or two Assistant Clinical Officers (ACOs), eight nurses and 4 support staffs.
Implementation strategies includes impatient program, Intensive Outpatient Program, Individual Outpatient program, addict intervention, Biomarker screening (where blood test are done for both alcohol and drug) and operational research and many more.
For the technical assistance, Psychiatrists from hospitals will make timely visits.
In 2011, the national referral hospital in Thimphu (JDWNRH)’s Psychiatric OPD received 107 alcohol cases.
As for the number of those detoxified in the psychiatric ward, there have been about 542 alcohol cases and 123 drug cases since 2010 till July 2012.
The Annual Health Bulletin (AHB) 2011, shows 1943 cases of alcohol liver diseases, 276 mental and behavioral disorders due to alcohol and 74 cases due to multiple drug use of psychoactive systems.
But the recent AHB shows increase in the number of patients where alcohol liver diseases have increased to 2050 from 1943.
About 495 cases of mental and behavioral disorder due to alcohol are seen; almost a double fold from the previous data, 110 mental and behavioral disorders due to multiple drug use and other use of psychoactive substances.
Each year numbers are increasing as per the health bulletin.
Health Secretary Nima Wangdi said, with the existing facility we as of now at Serbithang do not cater to the need. “Quite a number of people are going out due to less facility in Bhutan”, the Health Secretary said.
The Program Officer said later we expect double the number of patients because with the existing rehab at Serbithang and psychiatric ward, most of the patients have to wait more than one month and most of them had to be sent off due to limited beds. Compared to drugs, most of the cases are of alcohol.
He explained most of the Bhutanese consume alcohol making it out to be culture, tradition and as it is availability of alcohol is not a problem with so many bars. “Alcohol is available to all the population while drug addicts are seen among youth,” he said.
“Alcohol sometimes becomes integrated with drugs,” he added.
Project Director of Health Infrastructure Development Division (HIDD) under MoH Wangdi Gyeltshen said designing of the center has been outsourced to Bhutan Architectural Service and Infrastructure Consulting (BASIC) at the cost of Nu 1.8mn. The basic design works started since March 2011.
For the infrastructure, the cost estimate is Nu 80mn and later it could be changed. Along with the 50 bedded; 26 units are to be constructed for the doctors/heads and support staffs. As of now, clearing of the land has been done. Deadline for the completion of the work is kept at minimum of 18 months.
The total cost estimate for the center is about Nu 150mn.